Guidelines aim to improve online ticketing for disabled audiences

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A new guide has been launched to ensure D/deaf and disabled audiences are better served when buying tickets online.

Commissioned by the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers, the guide is thought to be the first of its kind for accessible ticketing in the UK, and has been created in response to the barriers faced by people with a disability when booking online.

It has been written by consultancy Nimbus Disability, with contributions from charity Attitude is Everything. The research that prompted the guide was focused on the live music industry, but the best practice document is aimed at ticket sellers for all types of live events, including theatre.

A 2014 report by Nimbus found that 83% of disabled gig-goers had been put off buying tickets online due to inaccessible systems.

The guide states that although 75% of disabled people prefer to book tickets online, just one in five venues offers online ticketing to disabled customers.

Instead, venues opt to sell accessible tickets through in-house telephone booking lines that sometimes have limited hours, the guide claims.

The new guide is intended to highlight the legal and operational considerations around ticketing for disabled customers. It explains what should be expected of venues and vendors, including the legal responsibilities of ticket sellers, as well as how to handle free ticket allocations for essential companions.

STAR chief executive Jonathan Brown said organisations should be considering how they ensure they have equal access online ticketing, not whether they do it at all.

“We know that improvements are being made and there are certainly ticket agents and venues that are currently working towards implementing online booking facilities for disabled people. We look forward to hearing more on these developments later in the year, but there is still much work to be done.”

Penny Mordaunt, minister of state for disabled people, health and work, added: “We must do all that we can to offer disabled people a real choice in how and where they spend their time and money… [I] hope that the whole industry will take the guidance on board.”

The guide is sponsored by Ambassador Theatre Group and JM Marketing.